Kerbal Space Program (Preview)
Oh you poor, poor Kerbals. You happily build me rockets and spacecraft completely oblivious to the fact that I’m an accountant by trade who dabbles in games journalism from time to time. Perhaps they should screen their mission control supervisors a bit better? Nah. As you may have guessed from the name, “Kerbal Space Program” is a spacecraft/rocket simulator that allows players to manage their very own space program. Before the Kerbals catch on to the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing, I’d like to thank Adrián Goya and Alejandro Mora from Squad for setting me up with an early access copy. Like all games still in development, it’s important to remember that the content featured below may be subject to change.
When I first laid my eyes on this game, I was rather intimidated. I consider myself a fairly intelligent individual and an experienced gamer, but I am by no means a rocket scientist. Perhaps my hesitation has something to do with the fact that I haven’t seen many games like this out on the market. There was “Space Shuttle Project” for the NES, but that was merely a collection of mini-games designed to rage you into spiking controllers off of the ground. Luckily, the early access copy I received should give me plenty of time to mess around with the game’s features in time for the full review.
My first impressions? Challenging, but fun. The game is currently in a “sandbox” state, allowing folks to create ships to see how well they fly. You’ll be spending most of your time at the “vehicle assembly building” and “space plane hangar” putting your ships together. You’ll have a wide array of parts to choose from, which you can click and drag over to the assembly area to lock them together. It’s a bit like “Spore” in that regard, only much more complicated. For example, you can actually set parts of your craft to perform actions during various stages of your flight…telling a rocket to burn or to disengage itself from the craft entirely, for example. Your creations are augmented by in-game physics, so expect to see some spectacular crashes until you get a feel of what is supposed to work and what doesn’t.
Your goal, at this point in time, will be to successfully see your craft into space and send it to other planetary bodies in the solar system. You’ll have to account for things like orbit trajectory and ship systems, so getting to that point will be quite a challenge. You may want to check out the Wiki page I linked below to get your feet wet a bit first, unless of course you’d rather just have at it and watch with morbid glee as your little Kerbals repeatedly crash and burn. In future builds, the developers intend to introduce missions, the ability to hire & train astronauts, a research mechanic to unlock new parts, space station construction, and more. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re not afraid of a challenge and on that note, it’s important to stress that there is no instant gratification here. You’ll need to work for your successes, which may turn some casual folks off. Me? I’m having a blast thus far…no pun intended.
The game is currently going for about $23.00 on the official site and Steam, but the price is set to increase as more features get added to the game. If you like what you see, you may want to invest now to save yourself a couple of bucks. Buying in now grants you access to the Alpha, updates, and the full game when it gets released. A demo of an earlier (outdated) build is available, should you wish to try it out first. Happy launching!
You can learn more about the game and pre-purchase into the Alpha here:
You can check out the game’s Wiki page, here:
You can check out gameplay videos here: